Improve Data Security & Sustainability By Reducing Your Data Footprint

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3D visualization of big data in the form of databases and the table structure

Data sprawl continues its relentless march, leading organizations to accumulate larger sets of data across industries. As cloud storage reigns supreme in the storage industry, businesses are increasingly moving and storing more data in the cloud.

For enterprise data and security leaders, the sheer volume of enterprise data dramatically raises the stakes and liability to thoroughly protect regulated personal data and comply with regulations. However, if IT leaders are not careful, cloud storage can result in your data becoming even more scattered across several data centers. This data fragmentation increases data security risks and the company’s overall data footprint.

Today, rather than migrating all data to the cloud, IT leaders are eagerly seeking for ways to reduce their company’s data footprint and simplify their data management and protection efforts to avoid risk and unplanned costs.

What Makes Up Your Data Footprint?

Your data footprint is difficult to measure because it depends on a combination of factors, some of which are outside of your control. The easiest calculation is to add up how much data you have stored in data centers and on-premises storage. However, this method doesn’t take into consideration how that data is stored or what data is valuable versus data that can be removed. With data intelligence, more modern data centers could fit that data into fewer, more efficient machines. An older data center, in contrast, might spread that data over many locations.

Data footprints have emerged as a valuable metric for several reasons. For one, there’s a significant financial cost to having a large data footprint. A study of 600 data center experts identified that two out of every five organizations that store data in-house spend over $100,000 every year on storing hardware that could be redeployed or sold. Likewise, there’s an environmental cost to having a large data footprint. Estimates vary from 7kWh per gigabyte to 3.1 kWh per gigabyte, which adds up to a significant amount of electricity powering data centers globally with an impact on global sustainability.

The Connection Between Data Security, Sustainability and Data Footprint

As your data footprint grows, so too does your data risk. While you don’t need to delete all your data, the security risk comes from how you manage your data. If all of your data is indiscriminately uploaded to cloud servers, you’re unnecessarily increasing your risk through the migration process. Data migration is a high-risk process with numerous vulnerabilities from incomplete, corrupt missing files, accidents, trash data, and nefarious actors phishing for credentials and more.

You need to know your data to determine what belongs in the cloud and what doesn’t. Enterprises must accurately classify their data to know exactly what information they have, how it was collected, how long it must be retained, and how to properly dispose of it. Many companies have hundreds of gigabytes worth of insignificant files and data they simply don’t know they have. While many data centers are very secure, the security level is up to each facility. As you create, upload, and share more files, they’re duplicated and sent to multiple centers. If one suffers from an attack breach, all of your data can be made vulnerable.

Sustainability: Reducing Your Environmental Impact Through Data Management

Reducing your data footprint can be achieved through good data management practices and by relying on service providers that make consolidation their goal. However, even the best data center has a limit to how much it can contain on a single server or at a single location. Therefore, you have to know your data to prune unnecessary files from your cloud storage, and thus shrink your footprint.

Good data management makes it possible to allocate your storage efficiently, but it also helps you to limit the total amount of data your organization produces. In order to reduce your data load, you have to first know what data you have. Many organizations are completely unaware of their total data volume because they lack the tools to discover data in the first place. The constant influx of data into systems leads to older files being buried beneath incoming information. This dark data lies beneath the surface of your organization and can greatly increase your data footprint without your knowledge.

When you know your data, you’re also able to make smarter decisions for your security, what data you need to keep and where to store it. But how can you keep up with the ever-growing volume of data your organization has to manage? The answer is automation.

Automation Leads to Consolidation

You can’t manage your data by hand anymore. There’s simply too much for you to keep track of. Fortunately, automation can handle this burden for you. Intelligent Data Automation tools can uncover hidden files and dark data that your organization was unaware of.

Automation solutions allow you to locate all of your data no matter where it lives, organize it, and present it to you in an easily digestible format on a single dashboard. This puts you in control to make better-informed decisions to assist in reducing your data footprint. By knowing where your data lives and what type of data you have, you can avoid exposing sensitive information to the world and improve your overall security.

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